Snacks are an important part of a healthy diet. Snacks can help you fight hunger between meals and help you get your daily servings of fruit, vegetables and fiber. You should be having a serving of fruit or vegetables with every snack. Add a low calorie serving of protein with your snack and you have a balanced snack that will actually help you meet your daily nutritional goals.
Snacks should be between 100 and 250 calories depending on your individual calorie needs. You should ideally be eating a snack in the afternoon and possibly one after dinner. If you eat dinner this is especially important because it can be a long time between dinner and breakfast. You should avoid overly fatty foods, sugary foods and caffeine. Some carbohydrates can help you sleep. If you are looking for a nighttime snack that will help you catch your zzz’s then try popcorn and cherries. Both of these foods have the right kind of carbohydrates to help you get a restful night of sleep.
Snacks should normally be composed of a serving of protein and a serving of carbohydrates. Ideally the carbohydrates should be from fruits and vegetables. Try carrots and hummus or celery and cream cheese. Other ideas are a tomato hollowed out with cottage cheese inside, an apple and string cheese or a yogurt and 1/2oz-1oz of nuts. Raw nuts are your best choice and you should avoid nuts that are cooked in oil with salt or candied nuts.
If baked goods are your thing, there are several snacks you can make yourself and improve the overall nutrition value of the goodies. In recipes that call for butter, margarine or lard substitute sugar free applesauce.
If the recipe is chocolate use prune baby food instead of butter margarine or lard and you will never know the difference (neither will friends nor family). Another great way to make baked goods that are lower in calories and fat is to make diet soda cake or cupcakes. For this all you do is mix a can of diet soda into a box of cake mix and bake away. Use diet lemon lime or soda for fruity cakes and regular diet cola for chocolate cakes.
For an extra indulgent snack or for a birthday party serve your diet soda cake or cupcakes with frozen yogurt. Frozen yogurt is a tasty alternative to ice cream. It has a flavor and texture that can rival any ice cream. You can indulge without completely ruining your diet goals. Frozen yogurt comes in a wide variety of flavors and can also be mixed with fruit for a delicious and nutrition packed smoothie. This is one way to get a delicious frozen treat and get an extra serving or two of fruit into your diet. Just keep the ingredients simple and do not add any additional sugar.
Keep in mind that baked goods and frozen yogurt are treats. They are better treats for your body then the chemical filled packs of treats advertised as having a hundred calories, but they are all treats. You should limit having treats for snacks to a couple of times per week and try to have these treats on days that you exercise.
The best snacks are the ones that add to your day nutritionally and help you stay within your dietary goals. You want a balance of protein, carbohydrates and vitamins to keep your body going all day long. It is great to indulge every once in a while in a healthier version of your favorite treats, such as frozen yogurt or lower calorie baked goods.